January 21, 2022
‘PLAN FOR 10’ Keep at least 10 feet (3 metres) away from high-voltage powerlines and conductors.
If you work around high-voltage equipment, you need to be aware of the safe distance (limits of approach) to stay away from it. This safe Distance applies to workers, machines, tools and equipment.
Everyone has a role to play in “planning for 10.”
“While employers are responsible for conducting a risk assessment and producing a plan for safety around high-voltage electricity, everyone has a role to play,” says Carol-Anne Boufford, WorkSafeBC’s prevention field services manager for the construction industry.
Planning for workplace safety starts at the beginning of any new construction project. Owners, developers, architects and engineers all play a critical role in planning for the long-term health and safety of all workers involved in the project. So do municipalities who issue building permits, along with employers, contractors and workers who also need to understand their responsibilities when working near highvoltage
electrical equipment and conductors.
Workers are responsible for understanding and following work arrangements and procedures — ensuring their own safety and the safety of your co-workers.
Employers must conduct risk assessments, control risks and apply suitable controls to prevent workers from injury. Employers must inform their workers of the potential hazards, including electrical hazards, before they start work near energized electrical conductors or Equipment.
Implementing the hierarchy of controls (pictured) can help to make sure all controls are considered to best protect workers. It’s important for employers to follow the hierarchy starting with elimination or substitution, rather than starting with the lowest level of control measures. While the controls are listed in order of effectiveness, all five types of controls must be considered.
Once employers have conducted risk assessments and have plans in place for controlling risks, they need to communicate this to workers. Workers need to know the work arrangements and procedures to follow, and supervisors, lead hands and contractors should review the high-voltage hazards at pre-job meetings. Everyone on the crew needs to know the highvoltage electrical hazards and the plan for working safely.
The developers and owners who manage and supervise construction projects all have responsibilities to plan for safety. As well, prime contractors are responsible for co-ordinating the safety of all trades and contractors on a multi-employer worksite and must ensure there is a system in place for worker safety.
Construction sites must also be designed with workers’ safety in mind. Architects need to consider the safety of the workers who will build their designs. Engineers are responsible for ensuring the construction process is safe for workers and in compliance with safety regulations, codes and laws.
For more information on the limits of approach, working safely around high-voltage electricity and the OHS Regulation and policy, visit worksafebc.com/electrical-safety.
By Jaret Swanson
Manager, OHS Consultation and Education services, WorkSafeBC